Self-driving vehicles are one of the glaring challenges associated with computer science, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) today. While the technology now is very adept at augmenting a human driver automate the task of driving to a certain extent. Replacing the human driver with a fully-automated system still seems like a distant dream.
There are many boons to having self-driving vehicles. The two leading reasons being that self-driving vehicles could raise the safety and mobility of all of humanity. Moreover, self-driving vehicles could be the solution to the growing traffic congestions in the biggest cities in the world. Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based company is working on the latest advancements in AI, machine learning and computer vision to help create safe and efficient self-driving vehicles of tomorrow.
Volkswagen AG invests a massive $2.6 billion
Argo AI has been making the headlines for its breakthrough work to make self-driving a reality ever since it was founded. But a major development that shined the light on Argo AI was when the automotive behemoth Volkswagen announced that it will be investing $2.6 billion to propel the company’s growth.
Although the investment wasn’t the first, it was more than double of the previous investment. Previously, the Ford Motor Company had invested $1 billion which gave Argo AI the necessary funding it needed to grow its talent pool, and progress quickly. But the latest investment from the German giant confirms that Argo AI is onto something.
The investment from Volkswagen AG comes in two parts. The company will be investing $1 billion in funding and contributing its Autonomous Intelligent Driving (AID) company, valued at $1.6 billion. The deal meant that Argo AI’s valuation went up and now stands in excess of $7 billion. While Ford and Volkswagen hold equal stakes in the Pittsburgh-based company, the remaining equity remains at the hands of the employees.
This deal also means that the company is starting its operations in Europe. The AID employees will now be on Argo AI’s payroll and the Munich-based team becomes Argo’s European headquarters. With this development, the company now has over 700 employees in its workforce. Considering that the company began in 2016, this is undeniably one of the fastest-growing companies in the world.
The Value on Diversity and Inclusion
Countless studies emphasize on the importance of having diversity at workplaces but Argo AI is different. The company believes that it is building something to improve the lives of everyone. Hence, the team that is building the self-driving technology needs to represent everyone.
Argo AI truly focuses on whom it adds on to its team and is ever aware of paying attention to having the necessary diversity in it. For example, to encourage more women to join them, the company sponsors women-focused conferences, panels, and community events. This is a great way to reach out to the next generation who may not be excited to enter the tech field. Argo also hosts school classes from elementary through undergraduate and sponsors local STEM programs to prepare women to take up technical roles.
It has been two and a half years since the company took flight and its HR work has been stupendous. Argo AI was awarded the Pittsburgh HR Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Award recently.
Let’s face it; we know that self-driving vehicles are the future. While there are many innovative companies in this space, Argo AI is truly unique. This is because Argo AI is an independent company that is backed by two global automakers, Ford and Volkswagen. This means that Argo gets to work in tandem with the two leading car makers of the world to create self-driving systems while having a holistic view. Argo’s technology is poised to reach almost every global market through its partners.
Meet the CEO
Bryan Salesky, CEO
Prior to Argo AI, Bryan was at Google on its self-driving car team. At Google, he was responsible for the development and manufacture of the hardware portfolio. This included self-driving sensors, computers and several vehicle development programs. In 2007, he was leading the software engineering team of Tartan Racing, Carnegie Mellon’s winning entry in the DARPA Urban Challenge. At the Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), he managed the center’s largest commercial programs including autonomous mining trucks for Caterpillar.
He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering.
“We’re on a mission to improve the way the world moves by making transportation safer, more affordable, convenient, and accessible for everyone.”
“With the support of our first customers and partners, Volkswagen and Ford, our self-driving technology is poised to move people and goods worldwide.”
“It takes commitment to high-quality, disciplined engineering in order to make this technology available at scale. We’re designing and building an automotive grade self-driving system from the ground up, suitable for commercial operation.”